hiking outdoors

Over the past six months or so I’ve been paying more and more attention to where the things I buy are sourced from. This covers everything from tofu to trainers, candles to concealer. I realise that I find myself in a highly detached society: one that thinks Amazon pulls products out the air and ships them to us.

This isn’t a good thing. If we’re unaware of the process of getting whatever item it is to our doorstep, how are we monitoring whether the supplier is doing a good job or not? Just as we don’t think about where our trash goes once it’s collected from the kerb, we’re not thinking of the entire process when we purchase a shirt to wear. At least, not most of us.

This kind of blissful ignorance is what is fuelling bad practices across many (if not all) industries. Consumption is greater than ever and the demand to push prices down also greater than ever. Suppliers want to accommodate and so if this means forgoing ethics, many will unfortunately comply.

I know marketing is a clever industry and it’s aim is to convince us that we need x, y, or z. But I didn’t realise until recently just how wrong I was about one particular industry: outdoor clothing & technical gear.

From the months of March-November (though sometimes in winter too) I look for any opportunity to pack up the tent, don my gore-tex and get some fresh air in my lungs. Whether it’s hiking a mountain or getting some waves, I thrive in the great outdoors.

In order to participate in these kinds of activities, appropriate “technical” clothing and kit is often required. Up until recently, I’ve purchased whatever is on offer in my favourite outdoor chains. I guess I had this idea that brands producing items for allowing one to be more comfortable/prepared in nature must also care about nature. See the link there? Sadly, I’ve discovered that this truly isn’t the case. It seems outdoor brands are closer to the fashion industry in terms of ethics.

This excellent round-up from Ethical Consumer goes into detail about a variety of brands and aspects of  what is considered ethical manufacturing & supply. I highly encourage you check it out.

There are some new items that I’m due to be purchasing very soon. But with this now knowledge floating around my brain, I refuse to simply purchase the next thing I see that looks nice and fits well (or is technically-sound). There’s a lot of research to be done, but watch this space because I’ll be bringing my findings to you. The ethical brands are not the mainstream ones, but it’s important that they get a voice. If we talk about them more, they will become more widely acknowledged.

Photo via Unsplash

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It’s safe to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that Snowdonia is my favourite National Park within the UK. Well, that I’ve experienced so far at least. The love affair started almost ten years ago. This was a trip to tackle Glyder Fawr. I can clearly remember the way the air felt around me. We entered the National Park and I felt the excitement and sense of possibility. Nothing felt certain. Nothing set in stone. This wreaks havoc on those trying to plan a hiking or climbing route, but reminds us that we do not rule the world; the elements do.

In this mountain range – like any other – the weather can change in seconds. A sun catch can become a scramble of mist and scree. You definitely don’t want to be caught out without the right kit. Your body is only as strong as the mind you have supporting it. Preparation is key.

This may sound like a total nightmare for some. For me, well, I like to be put in my place from time to time. I like to be shown by Mother Nature that man does not rule the world. I like to feel the adrenaline of the uncertainty. I like the sense of adventure.

So back up to Snowdonia it was, this past weekend. Only this time, the mission was the baddest of the bunch: Snowdon, himself. It’s always going to be on the list to want to climb the biggest one, but in some ways Snowdon isn’t quite as bad-ass because there’s a café at the top. You can seek refuge from the rain and the wind, use an actual toilet, buy a hot cup of tea. We still enjoyed it nonetheless.

For our first ascent up Snowdon, we chose the Watkins trail. Tempted as we were by Crib Goch, with the temperamental weather brewing up in the sky, we thought it wise to take the safer route. We started our route from our campsite at Llyn Gwynant. We navigated around the perimeter of the lake and up a valley. The winding trail takes you through miner’s territory. This passes breath-taking waterfalls before you ascend up the rock faces and eventually hit a brief climb through scree.

It became apparent we’d made the right choice with our route as we reached approximately 150m from the top and the harsh winds and mist descended. Visibility was horrendous and careful footing essential. But the sideways rain didn’t manage to get the better of us, thankfully.

We didn’t get the view we’d hoped for from the summit, but it really doesn’t even matter once you’ve reached that point. You’re simply grateful you made it and spend time laughing and joking with others who have climbed that day too.

We descended back down Watkins, thinking it probably best considering the conditions and once we were out the cloud line around 800m the sun shone in full glory and it was just us and and the sheep looking out to sea.

Wales Snowdonia Snowdonia Snowdonia Llyn Gwnant Snowdonia Watkins_Snowdon Watkins_Snowdonia Snowdon Sheep Snowdonia Snowdon Sheep Mt Snowdon Llyn Gwnant Lake Snowdonia

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